BUSINESS & FINANCE
On 2 December, the British Embassy of Paris issued a press release to remind business owners to prepare for the coming changes to border policies with the United Kingdom. Even though Brexit officially took place last January, there has been a ‘transition period’ that ends on 31 December 2020. After this, a massive re-haul of the border system will take effect, greatly affecting the movement of goods. The embassy emphasises there is “no time to lose”.
With just one month to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK Government is urging business owners to make their final preparations before new rules come into force. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Business Secretary urge businesses to act now.
To support efforts to get ready, the Government is announcing the creation of a multi-million pound Border Operations Centre with state-of-the-art technology manned 24/7 by a team of expert officials monitoring the UK border in real-time.
The new centre will provide a complete view of goods and passengers coming in and out of ports for the first time, paving the way for what they call ‘the world’s most effective border’ by 2025.
Get ready for delays
At the heart of this new tight ship will be the Border Flow Service - software that gathers information about the flow of goods and passengers. Changes to the way the UK trades with Europe will likely mean that there will be a short-term disruption at the border. However, with access to better information and intelligence than before, the Government will be able to keep goods and people moving smoothly and make the UK ‘safer and more secure.’ It will also allow the Government and local police to make rapid decisions to ensure any disruption is minimised.
From July, UK imports from the EU will require safety and security declarations for the first time. The government claims that as a result of leaving the EU, they will have access to data which will change their approach to organised crime at the border, allowing the seizure of more illicit commodities and to ‘dismantle organised crime groups.’
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said:
“At the end of year we will take back control of our borders and that’s why we have set up the new Border Operations Centre to monitor and analyse flows of goods and people into the UK in real-time. This will help us tackle challenges quickly and decisively, and give us increased information which will make us safer and more secure.”
Researchers are looking forward to being able to track data as trends, as the software develops over time. The Border Operations Centre will be able to analyse historical trends and will have predictive capability - supporting the UK’s ambition to develop ‘the world’s most effective border by 2025.’
The government’s “Time is Running Out” campaign sent letters to businesses of all sizes in various sectors – from tourism to construction – to ensure they know what they need to do to prepare for the challenges.
The actions listed in the letters will need to be completed regardless of the EU negotiations as to avoid any disruption to their business when the transition period ends on 31 December.
In recent weeks, the Business Department has also been running a series of 16 successful readiness webinars - which have been watched by over 10,765 people - to help businesses get prepared for 1 January. The webinars covered key actions for various sectors, from automotive to services, as well as issues that could affect businesses in multiple sectors, including personal data, and regulations on manufactured goods. Businesses can sign up for webinars or watch pre-recorded webinars about the new rules on trading with the EU from 1 January 2021. Visit the new page on GOV.UK.
In a message to businesses, Michael Gove said:
"Regardless of the outcome of our negotiations with the EU, there are guaranteed changes that businesses must prepare for now. There is no time to lose, but by visiting gov.uk/transition you can quickly find out what actions you need to take.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“Our fresh start outside of the EU single market and customs union is just on the horizon. As we enter the home stretch, businesses must make sure they are fully prepared for the new rules and opportunities that being an independent trading nation will bring.
Amongst all our proactive work with business, I have written to nearly five million firms across the UK outlining the top actions they need to take, and reminding them that the Government is here to support them as the transition period ends”.
To make sure businesses have the support they need over the coming weeks, the government has:
- Established a Brexit Business Taskforce which meets every week
- Published the Border Operating Model which gives traders the clarity they need to prepare for new rules
- Published the Haulier Handbook and opened 45 Information and Advice sites have across the UK
- Invested £705m in jobs, infrastructure and technology at the border
- Provided £84m in grants to grow the customs intermediary sector
- Decided to introduce new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021 to give traders time to prepare.
For more information on the transition, visit: gov.uk/transition